Through the Eyes of a Local

Maria Vint shares her experience growing up in St Andrews.

The waves lap on the beautiful St Andrews beach as the Scottish sky sets dusty pink upon the wings of flying birds. Winding cobbled streets, castles, countryside – it’s almost too good to be true! Many would agree that this is the perfect place to settle into as your first big move away from home. But what if you’re a student not moving far away from home at all?

I am this student. And I’ve seen St Andrews rotate through the seasons my whole life.

Photo: John Patrick Pazdziora
Photo: John Patrick Pazdziora

Being from a local village, I’m already accustomed to the area. I’ve seen the students fall about the town covered in foam. I’ve witnessed people running into the sea at 5 am. I’ve always watched in bewilderment and never really understood these weird traditions that you all partake in. Now that I am one of you notoriously nutty students, I’d like to share a few of my observations of the town.

Firstly, St Andrews occupies a niche where the weird and the woolly flourish. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve seen how the town explodes when all the students arrive, bringing with them both inspiration and enthusiasm, turning St Andrews into a little planet of its own. Even though I’ve not moved far from home, I can honestly say that I feel almost like I’ve moved 1000 miles away. It’s the people here that make St Andrews the eccentric place I find it to be. There are not many other small, quiet, rural coastal towns where it’s normal behaviour to bounce up to a stranger and ask if you can ‘adopt’ them with the intent of getting them blackout drunk at your house. That’s weird.

University is a whole new chapter in my life. I still have a safety blanket of old friends dotted about, but they are all doing their own thing and moving all over the place too. Remaining in St Andrews whilst feeling far away has really made me realise that your physical environment doesn’t determine your mental experience. Where you are is what you make of it. I hope that’s comforting to some of you who have moved far away from home to this strange and rainy place.

Photo: Visit Scotland
Photo: Visit Scotland

The fact that people from all over the world flock to this tiny town is what it makes St Andrews so special. Our university is a unique opportunity to share cultures and make connections from dozens of countries. In today’s political climate, unity and compassion for others is incredibly important. I’ve seen the town transform for me in a way that I never really got before I was a student here. (Can you tell at all that I’m an Anthropology student?)

St Andrews truly is a ‘bubble’, where the whole world shrinks to three cobbled streets. Only here can a night out consist of a Turkish pizza, a mortifyingly slurred conversation with a Frenchie and a heart-to-heart therapy session with an American, all whilst crying about your life and puking up mysterious blue juice. The next day you’re also pretty much guaranteed to have 20 friend requests and a tarnished reputation.

Students, know that locals really do love you. (Just not when you walk on the wrong side of the pavement. That really stresses us out.)

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